MAKER SPOTLIGHT: Felts by Philippa

MAKER SPOTLIGHT:  Felts by Philippa
Lara Pollard-Jones

 This week we've been talking to Philippa from Felts by Philippa.  She works with a variety of different wools and techniques to make some amazing needle felted animals.

When did you start your craft?
I started needle felting about 6 years ago now when I moved up to Yorkshire. I had a small business selling jewellery through Etsy and although it was good, I didn’t feel I was that creative. I would put the pieces together, assembling them rather than creating them. I always felt I was missing something and wasn’t a real handmade business. I tried sewing too, going to lessons and seeing if that would fill the void but it didn’t hook me. I can’t pinpoint where I saw needle felting but I know my first kit. It was a small trio of dogs with merino wool and I did an awful job. I only made one of the dogs but I knew it had potential. I wanted to create a horse head so instantly ordered more wool and started my research. You know when you know! 6 years later and I am still never bored to pick up the needle. 

What do you like best about needle felting?
Needle felting, in its essence, is sculpting with wool.  There is no mess like pottery and no counting like with knitting or crochet.  I don't have to think when I felt, there's a lot of feel involved.  Plus, getting into the zone is big - it's a meditation equivalent.  Using your hands and creating is a yearning that I think humans have but don't always get to fulfil.

Do you have a favourite thing to make?
I love to felt 3D sculptures of mainly animals.  Sheep, cows, horses, hare, owls, squirrels, otters, hedgehogs, the list is endless!  however, I always return to Highland cows and sheep.  They sell well (which is always good) but re-creating a sheep from actual sheep's wool is the full circle. 

Why is crafting important to you? 
This craft has given me the opportunity to earn a very good part-time wage around my children.  I have developed a flexible business through various income streams.  My YouTube channel for beginners was started because I couldn't find the videos I wanted when I was learning.  This has lead to me online courses, PDFs, kit, and going to events and fairs selling my creations.  I cover every topic to do with my business on my channel to help encourage other crafters to start up.  There is room for us all in this world of handcrafted entrepreneurship!

What are your preferred products to use?
My favourite products are my woolbuddy mat, my clover pen and wooden multi-needle tool holder.  I also use wool from World of Wool and needles from Heidifeathers.  Those are my essentials and I then use Etsy for actual sheep locks which helps to support other small businesses.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to take up needle felting? 
If you are at the start of your needle felting journey I encourage you to buy good quality wool, luckily we have World of Wool! (Editors note: We didn't make Philippa say this, honest!) Always start with carded wool to help you get the feel of needle felting quickly and go onto YouTube for a myriad of free tutorials (including mine!) Only buy needle felting needles from a dedicated wool/felting shop, they really aren’t expensive and will last much longer and felt better.

What's your favourite thing about World of Wool? (Of course, we have to have a leading question too...)
World of Wool, how fortunate are we to have this in the UK. So many subscribers of mine from abroad struggle to get decent wool. Several have even planned holidays just so they can purchase wool there! And their prices are the best. With the new website and an ever-increasing number of blends, untold colours and breeds, you just don’t need to shop anywhere else. If you can visit, do it, you won’t be disappointed, but I do have a video going round the magical wool kingdom on my channel so check it out.

You can find Felts by Philippa on YouTube here and her workshops and courses on her website here.

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